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Posted: December 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Work release inmates on the run

Deputies with the Newton County Sheriff's Office are on the lookout for three inmates who escaped while on work release from the jail. Last month, Randy Bassett, Antonio Kelly and Jonathan Shell, who are not violent criminals, failed to return to the work release facility after leaving their jobs.

"During the day, they are working in the community, but they have to return (to jail) as a condition of their sentence," said Lt. Mark Mitchell.

Inmates are sentenced to the work release program through the court system. Newton County District Attorney Ken Wynne said the program is offered to non-violent offenders as a way for them to serve their sentence and still maintain their livelihood. They can work during the day but must return to the facility in the evenings.

"This gives them the opportunity to support themselves and their family if they have a family," Wynne said.

The open nature of the program gave the convicts the opportunity to escape. While on release, Bassett complained about feeling ill and was taken by E.M.S to Newton Medical Center Nov. 19. After being released from the hospital, Bassett did not return to the work release program. Also on Nov. 19, Shell failed to report back to the facility at 8 p.m. as instructed when he left in the morning. Kelly failed to return to the facility Nov. 21 after he left the program at 7 a.m. to work.

Warrants have been issued for the inmates. When captured, they will be charged with escape.

"When they are arrested, they will be brought back before the judge," Wynne said. "They are looking at either a dentition center or prison time."


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